Building Community Through Song

Posted by Laura Rendall | Published June 30, 2015

Building Community Through Song

Northwest Ames Church is becoming skillful at using music as a teaching and community building tool. The church just happens to have two talented singer/songwriters as part of their family, Jaime West and Emily Hilleman. A couple years ago the leadership of Northwest Ames Church—Steve Kemp, Kevin Berg, and Chad West—started thinking about how to use the musical talent of their church with more purpose. The result is that now, instead of having a typical “worship” time at the start of each gathering, their music is integrated into the entire evening, often contributing to the teaching. Jaime and Emily think purposefully about what music they will bring and how that music will help the overall learning of the group.

When asked what impact this has had on her, Emily says, ” The house church setting has been a great environment for me to share and use my gifts. It’s so good to worship with songs that directly reflect the core teachings and principles of the church. I’m grateful for the opportunity to use my musical gifts to build up the church and help lead the family of God in worship.”

Steve says that restructuring their music in this way has caused it to go from “singing just for the sake of singing” to something that is deeply meaningful and instructional to the group. He describes the music of Northwest Ames Church as “the songs of our group’s faith” and says their songs are things that he reflects on during the week and that drive him back to Scripture. Music is also something they use as a teaching tool with their children on Sunday nights, since children easily remember things learned through song.

As part of this initiative and inspired by her own deep reflection on scriptures, Jaime has been writing songs that express some of the learning our CityChurch network has been doing on Sunday Mornings. Northwest Ames Church wanted to share one of Jaime’s songs with you, called “God of the Ages.”

When asked what inspired this song, Jaime says, “This song was written in response to my study of the key texts [our network has] been focusing on as a framework for God’s Story. These passages include Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:1-5; 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 89:1-4; Acts 1:6-8; and a few others. I had been reading Paul and the Faithfulness of God and studying these and other passages in Scripture and it just seemed like a logical thing to write a song to help our family and our church really internalize some of the most important parts of God’s Story and a few of the implications of being a part of that story.”

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Posted In Arts